Rocky China Relations

Article excerpt

The U.S. government has now agreed to pay China $28 million in compensation for the accidental bombing of China's Embassy in Belgrade last summer, which destroyed the building, killed three people and injured 27. China, meanwhile, has agreed to pay this country $2.87 million for the damage "spontaneous" demonstrations of Chinese students caused to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. President Clinton has apologized for the incident and so has the secretary of state. You might think that U.S. generosity would now place relations between the two countries on a firmer footing, but that is not a forgone conclusion by any means. Between China and the United states some major issues are looming.

One arises out of the unprecedented chaos of the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle last month. Even though U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky had struck a deal with Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji on membership, it now is clear that labor and environmental issues will loom large when the administration brings the deal to Congress for approval, as indeed it did with the North American Free Trade Agreement. Only this time, the AFL-CIO will have even more clout, being key to Vice President Gore's election campaign. The Chinese Embassy told The Washington Times officials there were concerned about President Clinton's proposal that the WTO impose sanctions on countries that violate labor standards.

Congressional approval will also also hinge on a host of other issues, as Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, told the Chinese premier this week. "Any action that China takes will be looked at through the prism of whether or not Congress approves the permanent NTR (normal trade relations)," he said. …